Reading ace Atkins raring to go after Scots call-up
TIM ATKINS has worked his way into the Scotland squad and is determined to make a success of it.
“Playing at international level is a new thing for me,” the Reading star admitted. “It is a great opportunity and I am really looking forward to playing for Scotland.”
Atkins was born in Oxford, but qualifies for Scotland through his mother’s side of the family and has his Reading HC colleague, Tommy Alexander, to thank for opening the door for him.
“I hadn’t given it much thought, but Tommy had been doing some junior stuff in Scotland. He was talking to their officials and one thing led to another and I got involved on the back of that,” said Atkins, who lives and works in London.
“I joined up with them around last September, did some training with then them and played a couple of unofficial games. Since then there has been lots and lots of training, so I hope that will pay off for me.”
With several of Derek Forsyth’s Blue Sticks squad based in London, it is not always possible for all the players to train together, but they certainly don’t get let off.
Atkins explains: “We do quite a lot of stuff that is remote, which is quite interesting. We were sent down some GPS systems that track our sessions in way of fitness.
“But as we build up to each tournament we get together more and more.”
This week Scotland are in Barcelona for three matches against Russia and the players will be meeting up again later this month in Glasgow for further training.
Atkins continued: “Next month we are in France and I think we are due to play games against a GB side. Then that’s followed by the World League 2 in Ireland which is cool.”
Scotland’s opponents in Belfast will include the host nation and Wales, which could well mean Atkins being up against current and former Reading team-mates.
He added: “There are also the Euros 2 in Glasgow in August, so hopefully I will be part of that, and Scotland are also looking to qualify for the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, which is on the Gold Coast in Australia.
“Scottish Hockey has a lot to look forward to and I want to be part of it.”
The 26-year-old defender would really enjoy returning to Australia, as he played some State hockey in Melbourne four years ago.
“Playing in Australia was really good experience for me,” commented Atkins, who also a short spell with Richmond.
“I was also at Bath when at uni (the University of the West of England), but I then went back to Reading, having started there when I was 16 or 17 and since then my hockey has kicked on.”
Atkins, an ambassador for Diabetes UK, is also preparing for Super Sixes Day with Reading at Wembley Arena on January 29.
“We have done really well to get there, as I don’t think we were expecting too much at the start of the league because we were missing some big names in our squad,” he commented.
“But we got ourselves into a really good position come the last day. We should have beaten Sevenoaks (7-7 draw after Reading had led 7-3) and that put us under a pressure going into our final game with East Grinstead and we did really well against them (winning 10-8).
“So, all in all, with the Super Sixes and the Scotland games, it is proving quite an exciting January for me and I will try to get the most out of it.”
Atkins joins goalkeeper Rory Kerr (Kelburne), Ben Cosgrove (Grove Menzieshill) and Nick Samra as newcomers in Derek Forsyth’s squad, although the Scots will be without top striker Kenny Bain for the trip to Northern Ireland due to club commitments with Rotterdam.
Call-up: Tim Atkins